Annexation Reform Opponents Fear Impact on Bases

By Bill O’Neil

Critics of State Senator Donna Campbell’s annexation reform bill are raising their voices at the State Capitol in Austin.

“This kind of reform is going to make it harder for cities to grow effectively… make it harder to attract jobs, zone appropriately and maintain quality living” said San Antonio State Representative Roland Gutierrez, who insists he understands the idea of giving those who may be annexed a say at the ballot box.

“The current legislation being proposed however fails to take in to account the preservation of our military bases–threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs in Texas” Gutierrez said, pointing to his bill calling for the creation of a five-mile buffer zone around military installations. It also calls for the creation of special zoning boards.

Campbell’s bill includes a buffer zone of less than a mile.

Many critics of the bill continue to point to the military’s economic impact on the Lone Star State.

“From an economic perspective, it’s one of the largest contributors to our economy. It has surpassed agriculture. Oil and gas is number one, defense is number two” said El Paso State Representative Cesar Blanco.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg also pointed to the economic impact military bases have on communities across the State–including here in the Alamo City.

“Also, the critical nature of the training activities that are happening at Camp Bullis, happening at Lackland… Randolph Air Force Base… need to be considered in any new legislation” Nirenberg said at the State Capitol Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez is convinced the political climate in Washington is lining up for another round of base closures to begin as soon as 2020, making the additonal protections for bases all the more necessary.

“BRAC is coming… and our Texas military installations need to be protected” Gutierrez said.

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